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26TH CALIFORNIA HOT ROD REUNION

California Hot Rod Reunion at the Auto Club Famoso Raceway Bakersfield, CA.

This was the 26th Annual California Hot Rod Reunion at the Auto Club Famoso Raceway near Bakersfield, CA. The highly anticipated event began with light morning rain that soon made way for an afternoon filled with quarter-mile nitro racing and just a taste of what was to come for the next two days. 

Thousands of spectators filled Auto Club Famoso Raceway to enjoy comfortable weather, racing royalty, cool cars, and amazing nostalgia drag racing. This race not only produced winners for this event but also wrapped up the NHRA Hot Rod Heritage series season. Despite the runner-up finish, Murphy was crowned the NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series Nostalgia Top Fuel world champion by winning in the semifinals.

Nostalgia Funny Car Final winner Bobby Cottrell
Nostalgia Funny Car Final winner Bobby Cottrell (far lane) beat Matt Bynum.
Nostalgia Top Fuel runner-up
Nostalgia Top Fuel runner-up, Jim Murphy of Santa Rosa, CA.
Nostalgia Pro Mod Final winner Jeremy Hanger
Nostalgia Pro Mod Final winner Jeremy Hanger (near lane) beat Tony Jurado .

Over 200 racers, including 10+ Top Fuel Dragsters and over 30 Top Fuel Funny Cars participated in the event. There was a lot to do aside from racing: vendors, a big swap meet, silent auction, lots of good food, and lots of cool street rods in the “Famoso Grove”. With so much going on, you can’t see it all in only 3 days!

The Honorees came from all aspects of the sport, including Bakersfield native, Grand Marshal Rick Stewart, with Honorees, Pete Eastwood, Bill Holland, Bob Lambeck, Bob Panella, Sr., and Jimmy Scott were presented, before the famous Cacklefest, with a parade down the track with introductions by former voice of the NHRA and a legend in his own right, Bob Frye.

Over 200 racers, including 10+ Top Fuel Dragsters and over 30 Top Fuel Funny Cars participated in the event

A/Gas winner Terry Newton
A/Gas winner Terry Newton.
A/FX Final winner Bob Moreland.
A/FX Final winner Bob Moreland.
A/FX runner up Brandon Clark.
A/FX runner up Brandon Clark.

Saturday evening featured the famous “Cacklefest@” featuring over 20 classic Top Fuel dragsters that produced a sight and sound like no other as they returned to a format familiar to the fans and participants.  Popular exhibition push starts throughout each day added excitement.  This “Living Museum” was an explosion of hot rods, nostalgia cars, racing, friends, and drag racing legends.

This Reunion brought out some big names in the sport including Gary Densham, Bob Frey, Greg Sharp, Mike English, Mike Lewis, John Force, Cory Lee, Robert Hight.  It was a special treat for fans but for the NHRA pros, the Reunion was their time to enjoy some nostalgia drag racing and meet some of their heroes like Tom McEwen, Don Prudhomme, Rick Stewart, Ed Iskendarian, Roland Leong, and Tommy Ivo.

Thanks for the Show!!

This “Living Museum” was an explosion of hot rods, nostalgia cars, racing, friends, and drag racing legends

26TH CALIFORNIA HOT ROD REUNION

26TH CALIFORNIA HOT ROD REUNION
Nostalgia Eliminator I runner up Pete Krona
Nostalgia Top Fuel winner,  Jim Young from Salem, WI
Nostalgia Top Fuel winner,  Jim Young from Salem, WI.
A/Gas runner up Roy Castagnetto
A/Gas runner up Roy Castagnetto.

26TH CALIFORNIA HOT ROD REUNION

26TH CALIFORNIA HOT ROD REUNION 26TH CALIFORNIA HOT ROD REUNION

…the Reunion was their time to enjoy some nostalgia drag racing and meet some of their heroes

26TH CALIFORNIA HOT ROD REUNION

A/Fuel Final. Kin Bates (far lane) beat Drew Austin.
A/Fuel Final. Kin Bates (far lane) beat Drew Austin.

Mike Boyd at the reigns of the legendary Winged Express. He’s about half way down the quarter mile doing a wheelie!
AA/Gas Final Gary Reinero (near lane) beat Mike Molea.
The Jet car closed the show Friday, Saturday & Sunday night.

Now here is “a pair to draw too”. “Pure Hell” just ahead of “The Wing”. Rich Guasco’s “Pure Hell” has been tearing up drag strips since 1963.
Nostalgia Super Stock Final winner Bob Tinger (far lane) beat Donnie Graham.
Top Fuel Funny Car leader Robert Hight (L) with AAA Chairman Tom McKernan.
Ed Iskendarian “The Cam Father”.
DSR’s own Mike Lewis.
Drag racing legend Roland Leong.
TV Tommy Ivo signs autographs.
Only believe half the stories about, Tom “The  Mongoose” McEwen and Don “The Snake” Prudhomme.

Grand Marshal Rick Stewart.


Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared in the January 2018 print issue of the Drive Magazine.

22ND CALIFORNIA HOT ROD REUNION

The 22nd annual California Hot Rod Reunion at the Auto Club Famoso Raceway, Bakersfield, CA

The 22nd annual California Hot Rod Reunion at the Auto Club Famoso Raceway near Bakersfield, California, welcomed an estimated 20,000 spectators and racers. The crowds that filled the Raceway enjoyed wonderful weather, racing royalty, cool cars and amazing nostalgia drag racing. More than 250 racers, including 14 Top Fuel Dragsters, and 30-plus Top Fuel Funny Cars participated. There was a lot to do aside from racing, with vendors, a big swap meet, lots of good food and hundreds of cool street rods in the Famoso Grove.

California hot rod reunion 2013 Cacklefest

The Cacklefest in particular was spectacular. More than 60 classic nostalgia Top Fuel Dragsters produced unmatched sights and sounds. The Reunion was like a “living museum,” an explosion of hot rods, nostalgia cars, racing, friends and drag racing legends. The Reunion also served a greater purpose, “Every dollar spent at this event will go to the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum,” said Larry Fisher, the new director of the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum.

Famous Lions drag strip starter Larry Sutton.
Famous Lions drag strip starter Larry Sutton.
Tom “Mongoo$e” McEwen points at former rival George “Bushmaster” Schreiber.
Tom “Mongoo$e” McEwen points at former rival George “Bushmaster” Schreiber.
Dave McClelland signs the banner.
Dave McClelland signs the banner.

Several big names in the sport to attended, including “Fast” Jack Beckman, Cruz Pedregon, Densham, Head, Kenny Youngblood, Gene Winfield, Dave McClelland, Ed Iskendarian, Ed Pink, Greg Sharp and Steve Gibbs. It was a special treat for fans, but for the NHRA pros, the Reunion was their time to enjoy nostalgia drag racing and meet some of their heroes, like Tom McEwen, Don Prudhomme, Tommy Ivo, Roland Leong and Art Chrisman.

This year’s grand marshal was Butch Leal and honorees included Tom Allen, Roy Brizio, Jim DeFrank, Larry Dixon Sr. and John Rasmussen. If you missed the 22nd iteration of the Hot Rod Reunion, don’t miss the 23rd!

The Top Fuel final
Top Fuel Winner! The Top Fuel final matched Low Qualifier Denver Schutz in the left lane against 2011 Heritage champ Adam Sorokin from La Crescenta, CA, in the right lane. At the start, Sorokin, in the canopy car, left first and pulled ahead for the win.

The Top Fuel final The Top Fuel final The Top Fuel final

Starter Bill Condit (Left) and Adam Sorokin discuss track conditions.
Starter Bill Condit (Left) and Adam Sorokin discuss track conditions.
Top Fuel Funny Car Final winner John Hale of Addison, TX
Top Fuel Funny Car Final winner John Hale of Addison, TX The Top Fuel Funny Car final matched John Hale in the left lane against Dan Horan in the right. After identical reaction times at the hit, Hale won with a 5.682 E.T.
(L-R) artist Phil Whetstone, honoree Tommy Allen and Funny Car driver Jack Beckman
(L-R) artist Phil Whetstone, honoree Tommy Allen and Funny Car driver Jack Beckman
2013 NHRA Heritage Racing Series Top Fuel Funny Car champion Jason Rupert
2013 NHRA Heritage Racing Series Top Fuel Funny Car champion Jason Rupert hangs out his pink laundry!
he Nostalgia Pro Mod (formerly AA/Gas) final
The Nostalgia Pro Mod (formerly AA/Gas) final matched Dan Myers in the left lane against Tim Krupa in the right. Myers, driving Nitro A GoGo, took the win.
The 7.0 Pro A final matched Mike Smith in the left lane against Steve Faller in the right. 
The 7.0 Pro A final matched Mike Smith in the left lane against Steve Faller in the right.  Faller went red and gave the win to Mike Smith.
The 7.0 Pro B final saw Richard Phillips take a single run for the win over a broken Dwayne Sanders.
The 7.0 Pro B final saw Richard Phillips take a single run for the win over a broken Dwayne Sanders.
In the A Fuel final, Les Davenport, from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, in the left lane defeated Kin Bates from Anderson, CA.
In the A Fuel final, Les Davenport, from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, in the left lane defeated Kin Bates from Anderson, CA.
The A Gas final saw Al White, in the right lane, beat Tom Fowler in the left.
The A Gas final saw Al White, in the right lane, beat Tom Fowler in the left.
In the Nostalgia Eliminator-1 final, local Jason Barta, in the left lane, beat Alan Hull on a holeshot.
In the Nostalgia Eliminator-1 final, local Jason Barta, in the left lane, beat Alan Hull on a holeshot.
In the A/FX final, San Diegan Mitchell Akers in the ’60 Chevy beat Michael McCallum’s Grand Junction, CO, ’63 Dodge 400.
In the A/FX final, San Diegan Mitchell Akers in the ’60 Chevy beat Michael McCallum’s Grand Junction, CO, ’63 Dodge 400.
A/FX winner Mitchell Akers’ ’60 Chevy Biscayne.
A/FX winner Mitchell Akers’ ’60 Chevy Biscayne.
High Heaven lifts a wheel.
High Heaven lifts a wheel.
Bradford’s and the Winged Express
Bradford’s and the Winged Express
Pure Hell
Pure Hell
Rat Trap lifts the wheels at 600 feet!
Rat Trap lifts the wheels at 600 feet!
Aussi Roly Leahy makes his customary awesome burnout.
Aussi Roly Leahy makes his customary awesome burnout.
Bradford’s with a burnout of his own
Bradford’s with a burnout of his own.
Ernie Algorri lifts his ’67 Ford Fairlane.
Ernie Algorri lifts his ’67 Ford Fairlane.
Paul Soliz puts High & Mighty in the air.
Paul Soliz puts High & Mighty in the air.
Jack Goodrich puts his ’64 Plymouth into “Outer Limits.”
Jack Goodrich puts his ’64 Plymouth into “Outer Limits.”
Roy Pool of Camarillo, CA, reaches for the sky in his ’65 Comet.
Roy Pool of Camarillo, CA, reaches for the sky in his ’65 Comet.
Cacklefest dragster, Vagabond, hangs out the laundry.
Cacklefest dragster, Vagabond, hangs out the laundry.
Chris Karamazines’ Chizzler
Chris Karamazines’ Chizzler
One of “Big Daddy” Don Garlits’ Swap Rats.
One of “Big Daddy” Don Garlits’ Swap Rats.
The Jerry Ruth car is cackled
The Jerry Ruth car is cackled

The Jerry Ruth car


Ultimate Wheelie

Perhaps the show’s most dramatic moment. James Valencia of Tehachapi, CA, finished his car the day before. Fortunately, he wasn’t hurt.

Top Fuel dragsters
Nostalgia Top Fuel dragsters in the pits.
The Gary Cochran car
The Gary Cochran car is cackled.
John Wiebe Dragster
John Wiebe Dragster
The Tocco-Harper-Garten Altered
The Tocco-Harper-Garten Altered
The car in the middle is pulling the Howard Cam Rattler and pushing the Speed Sport dragster.
The car in the middle is pulling the Howard Cam Rattler and pushing the Speed Sport dragster.
Vagabond
Vagabond
Varmit
Varmit

Varmit

Honoree Tommy Allen
Honoree Tommy Allen
Honoree Roy Brizio
Honoree Roy Brizio
Honoree John Rasmussen
Honoree John Rasmussen
Tom Kelly and his son Mitch
The Reunion Spotlight featured Tom Kelly and his son Mitch.
Grand Marshal Butch Leal
Grand Marshal Butch Leal
Honoree Jim DeFrank
Honoree Jim DeFrank